If you struggle to get a full eight hours of sleep each night, you're not alone. A new study from Iowa State University (ISU), which was published in the journal Sleep Health, has found that as many as five million Americans have difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep, and the issue particularly prevalent among people who try to sleep the recommended seven to eight hours each night. Zlatan Krizan, professor of psychology at ISU, and his research team analyzed data collected from nearly 165,000 individuals from 2013 to 2017 as part of a National Health Interview Survey.
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Over the course of five years, the number of adult participants who reported having trouble falling asleep at least one day a week increased by more than one percent; those who reported trouble staying asleep at least one day a week increased by more than two percent. When these findings were applied to 2018 population estimates, Krizan's team was able to surmise that nearly five million Americans likely have problems getting the appropriate amount and quality of sleep each night.
If you find yourself tossing and turning all night, consider putting your phone down before bed. "We know from our previous research there is a correlation between smartphone use and insufficient sleep among teens," said lead author Garrett Hisler. "If we're on our phone before bed or we're receiving alerts in the middle of the night, that can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night."
Krizan noted that the length of sleep matters, but the quality of sleep each night is just as important. Researchers intend to conduct more studies that evaluate the correlation between sleep quality and physical health. Previous studies have revealed that poor sleep quality can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, and sleep quality can affect our overall well-being. "We know that how well people sleep is generally very reflective of people's health and may be an indicator of other conditions," Krizan said. "If we want a full picture of the population's health, it's important to measure and track these changes in sleep trends over time."